It’s good to know your offspring has a healthy mix of your and your spouse’s genes. While she’s only four and there’s plenty of time to develop, it is surprisingly clear how much Zoe has in common with each of us that is clearly derived from nature rather than nurture.
Yesterday Zoe got two vaccinations at her four-year-old checkup. To motivate her to be brave before the shots, I promised ice cream at the end of the day. We procured our chocolate cone and cup and headed outside to enjoy the warm weather. We found a table and Zoe sat facing the building. She started to eat but she kept squirming around to look behind her to see the various children and dogs and other passersby. I asked if she wanted to find a new place to sit where she could see who was walking by on the sidewalk. “YES!” she exclaimed, and we happily relocated to a low wall we could sit on and people watch. Like me, Zoe loves to know what is going on everywhere, all the time. She likes to observe and check things out. She even watches me and my facial expressions. In the car she’ll see me in the rear view mirror and ask what’s wrong if I make a strange face. “Are you ok? Or just tired?” she asks. I can’t hide from this girl. The upside of this trait is that she pays careful attention and she is acutely aware of the people around her and her environment. The downside is a compulsion to always know what’s going on that can sometimes distract you from what you should be focusing on.
Meanwhile, one project we have this week is sending thank you notes for all of the birthday gifts Zoe received. I created and ordered thank you notes online using a photo from her party. I wrote all the notes on the cards and addressed the envelopes. Then I asked Zoe if she would draw or write or put stickers on the notes to make them a little more personally from her. She started on this project and spent about 20 minutes drawing a thunderstorm on one envelope. She drew a scene with a bear on another card. Then she wanted to quit. She tends to spend a long time on any item she creates, working on it meticulously. This is a good thing. She is thorough and not careless. This way of working also takes a long time. Especially with a relatively short attention span. There were 25 cards. I asked her to pick up the pace. She didn’t understand why. This characteristic of careful and diligent work on a project is shared by Randy. He wants to make sure whatever he does is exactly right and done the best possible way. This is admirable. It also takes a long time. I am more likely to rush through something in the name of efficiency.
So it’s interesting to notice these tendencies emerging in Zoe. I am pretty sure we didn’t teach them to her, although perhaps unconsciously anything is possible. My hunch is they are hard-wired. I hope we can see ourselves in her when she’s demonstrating these behaviors and be patient, since they’re really our fault.